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Aylesbury's six signal boxes

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Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby david bigcheeseplant » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:01 pm

I live in Aylesbury and am making a model of Aylesbury Town and collected quite a bit of info and photos on the station, it seems that over the years Aylesbury had six signal boxes, I just wonder if anybody can give me any info on opening closing dates lever numbers etc.

The first was on the end of the platform (see below). and I would guess opened either when the GWR broad gauge line opened in 1863 or when the standard gauge Aylesbury and Buckingham reached the station in 1868, it became I think a porters hut and was demolished about 15 years ago

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The second was a standard GWR type 5 box on the up platform.
Image


The third was a standard Metropolitan box; I have only seen a distant photo of this box, no idea when it went.

The fourth and fifth were the standard Great Central North and South boxes dating I guess from the opening of the GC.

Image

Image



[IMG=http://img804.imageshack.us/img804/2200/aylesburynorth001.jpg][/IMG]


The sixth box is a bit of a mystery as it was used as a platelayer’s cabin and was positioned behind the engine shed, I don’t think it was used as a signal box at Aylesbury so must have come from another location, it looks like an early GC or MSLR design, and any info would be good.

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Last edited by david bigcheeseplant on Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:39 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby Flipper_T_Rox » Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:19 pm

Hi David,

I'm sure that our host will be along shortly with a lot of your answers. He signed at least one of the Aylesbury boxes (South) and has provided a great deal of interesting history on the box to us previously.

I can tell you two things in the meantime.

The box in your last photograph is either an MS&LRy Type 2 box, or a remarkably close cousin. Possibly RSCo or Gloucester Wagon Company. Its original build date would certainly predate the GCR's arrival into Aylesbury. There was a very similar box at Whetstone station, on the GCR's London Extension, also in use as a Platelayer's hut and tool-store, which also predated that location by quite some time. This suggests two things, that the GCR did not like spending money needlessly, and that these early boxes were pretty well built and knocked down into component form relatively easily !

The box at Aylesbury South had (has) 55 levers, 45 of which were comprised of a GWR Double Twist locking frame, but converted to RSCo type direct-tappet locking. The remaining 10 were RSCo / GCR pattern below the floor, with GWR quadrants and levers above. I've got info on opening and closing dates at home, but 1908 and 1992 ring a bell.

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby david bigcheeseplant » Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:49 pm

Image

Another view of the ex signal box at the back of the engine shed, I just wonder where this came from.

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby John Hinson » Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:11 pm

david bigcheeseplant wrote:Another view of the ex signal box at the back of the engine shed, I just wonder where this came from.

There were dozens of these little cabins dotted around the system and in fact I have often wondered how there came to be so many surplus or whether some never actually had an earlier life but had always been non-signalling structures. But I think the presence of a design that pre-dated the location at Aylesbury must have come from somewhere else but I think it is unlikely to be traceable.

The odd one is still around, too, although this one is a bit shy:
http://shop.studio433.co.uk/index.php?r ... ct_id=2281

You asked about lever numbering etc - I take it you have looked at those at: http://www.signalbox.org/diagrams.php ? There are two there.

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby david bigcheeseplant » Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:33 pm

Flipper_T_Rox wrote:Hi David,



The box at Aylesbury South had (has) 55 levers, 45 of which were comprised of a GWR Double Twist locking frame, but converted to RSCo type direct-tappet locking. The remaining 10 were RSCo / GCR pattern below the floor, with GWR quadrants and levers above. I've got info on opening and closing dates at home, but 1908 and 1992 ring a bell.

Regards

Shawn


If the frame was GWR double twist I wonder it came from the old GWR box on the platform.

The first box on the end of the platform out lasted all the other boxes finally going in the late 1990s

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:18 pm

Flipper_T_Rox wrote:The box in your last photograph is either an MS&LRy Type 2 box, or a remarkably close cousin. Possibly RSCo or Gloucester Wagon Company.



It is definitely not a GWCo design - they only built boxes for a few years c1880 and all the ones that I have seen photos of incorporate detail features which immediately mark them as GWCo. I am even aware of a goods shed which was built new in 1881 but seemingly incorporated the framework and some detail features of the most common size of GWCo box.

The RSCo designs were effectively developed from the GWCo design but differ in detail. I wouldn't of thought that this particular box originated from RSCo but, given that RSCo was around for a fair number of years, it is difficult to definitively say that it isn't.
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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby Flipper_T_Rox » Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:36 pm

The Metropolitan & Great Central Joint Committee, having obtained a joint lease on Aylesbury station along with the Great Western & Great Central Joint Committee in 1907, undertook extensive remodelling of the station shortly afterwards. The main justification for the work was to remove the sharp reverse curve at the South end.

This curve had been a major factor in a crash at Aylesbury in December 1904, in which an express train failed to slow for the 15mph PSR through the curve, derailed completely and mounted the platform, killing four railwaymen and badly injuring two others. The Board of Trade considered this one of the worst derailments that had occurred to that date, and that it was only the fact that the train left Marylebone at 0245 and was consequently almost entirely empty (the six GCR staff killed and wounded were the only people on the train) which had prevented a massive loss of life.

Concurrent with the PW work carried out by the Met & GC Joint, the Great Central Railway resignalled the station. As part of this work the two existing signal boxes, Aylesbury East (Met Ry, 34 levers) and Aylesbury Joint (Met & GW Joint Ry, 45 levers), were demolished, and replaced with two GCR Type 5 boxes, Aylesbury North (30 levers) and Aylesbury South (55 levers). The new boxes opened in June 1908.

I have always considered it a bit too much of a coincidence that a brand new GCR signal box ended up with a hybrid frame that was 45 levers GW and 10 GC, at the same time that the boxes it replaced was demolished, along with its 45 lever frame . . .

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby John Hinson » Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:57 am

On the question of dates, I have the following:
GWR:
Aylesbury (1) op by 1880, cl 1893
Aylesbury (2) op 1893 cl 1908
GCR:
Aylesbury South op 1908 cl 24/11/90
Aylesbury North op 1908, cl 10/12/67

Following a visit to examine the frame from Aylesbury South courtesy Flipper T Rox I am in no doubt that the frame is from the GWR Aylesbury with additional levers added to make it up to 55 levers.

Aylesbury North would appear to have been of the same architecture as South and thus can be assumed to be a newly built box at 1908 but, interestingly, it contained a MS&L Railway 6" frame which must have been second-hand. Using second-hand frames (in both boxes) is unusual for GC practice and one wonders why frugality was applied here. That frame, incidentally, was of the right pattern to be fitted to the non-operational box illustrated, which is probably just a coincidence but intriguing nevertheless.

On the matter of the architecture of that building, it is to the MS&LR's 1880 design although that type certainly was based on the Gloucester Wagon Company/Railway Signal Company architecture. Features that make it unique to the MS&L are the diagonal boarding in the gable ends and the barge-board design.

Concerning the Met box, I'm not aware that it was officially called Aylesbury East but I will look into this further and also see if I have any dates for that.

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby Flipper_T_Rox » Wed Aug 17, 2011 6:49 am

Hi John,

signalman wrote:Aylesbury North would appear to have been of the same architecture as South and thus can be assumed to be a newly built box at 1908 but, interestingly, it contained a MS&L Railway 6" frame which must have been second-hand. Using second-hand frames (in both boxes) is unusual for GC practice and one wonders why frugality was applied here. That frame, incidentally, was of the right pattern to be fitted to the non-operational box illustrated, which is probably just a coincidence but intriguing nevertheless.


The theory amongst my colleagues and I is that the fairly unusual ownership situation of Aylesbury Station is probably a factor here. The station was run by not one, but two, Joint Committees - the Met & GC Ry *and* the GW & GC Ry.

With the costs being smeared across all three parent companies, and the resignalling being carried out by, and at the behest of, the Great Central Railway, it is not unreasonable to suppose that one or both of the partners might have insisted on costs being kept to a minimum (my money is on the Met :-)). With the lever frame being easily the single most expensive item in a box, this might offer an explanation for the reuse of the existing frame.

A thought now occurs, although one entirely without any evidence. Is it possible that the frame in Aylesbury North box was the similarly reused example from Aylesbury East box ?

Concerning the Met box, I'm not aware that it was officially called Aylesbury East but I will look into this further and also see if I have any dates for that.


Confirmation of the name of the Met box can be found in the Board of Trades report into the 1904 crash (link below). Aylesbury East is explicitly mentioned in the description of the site (1st para, page 3), and throughout the evidence given by the various Signalmen involved.

http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/BoT_Aylesbury1904.pdf

"There are two signal-boxes, viz, the East box and the Joint signal-box, the former of which is situated on the North side of the Metropolitan Railway, 314 yards from the centre of the station, and belongs to and is manned by the Metropolitan Company, while the latter is on the up platform about the middle of the station and is owned and manned by the joint Companies."

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby david bigcheeseplant » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:52 am

The date given for the opening of the first box of 1880 looks too late, as on the 1875 1:500 map it is clearly shown marked as signal box, Would this box therefore be a GWR type 1 box? I have a number of the original contract drawings for Aylesbury from 1863 and the box is not shown. The station on these plans state Aylesbury joint station although at this point it was joint between the Great Western and the Aylesbury and Buckingham railway. When the Met arrived the GWR would not let them use their station so the Met constructed their own station at Brook Street, this is maybe why there was a separate Met design box and controlled it own lines into it own station., I am not too sure how long this station lasted but the platform and station appear on one map.

Is Aylesbury south box now at the Great Central Railway if so does it have its original frame?

As for the MSLR box it seems strange to move a signal box just to provide a line side hut, could the whole box been moved and the frame been installed in the north box.

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby John Hinson » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:28 am

Flipper_T_Rox wrote:The theory amongst my colleagues and I is that the fairly unusual ownership situation of Aylesbury Station is probably a factor here. The station was run by not one, but two, Joint Committees - the Met & GC Ry *and* the GW & GC Ry.

With the costs being smeared across all three parent companies, and the resignalling being carried out by, and at the behest of, the Great Central Railway, it is not unreasonable to suppose that one or both of the partners might have insisted on costs being kept to a minimum (my money is on the Met :-)). With the lever frame being easily the single most expensive item in a box, this might offer an explanation for the reuse of the existing frame.

Yes, that seems likely.
Flipper_T_Rox wrote:A thought now occurs, although one entirely without any evidence. Is it possible that the frame in Aylesbury North box was the similarly reused example from Aylesbury East box ?

Well, it shouldn't be, as the latter was a Met box so there is no reason for it to have an MS&L frame. I would have expected it to have a Met frame like Wendover or Great Missenden as it was opened around the same time. However, its frame grew in size at a date unknown to 34 levers (it could have been a renewal) so there would have been enough there to provide 30 levers for the north. We need to see an internal view of the North to be certain that it really was what it was recorded as.

Flipper_T_Rox wrote:Confirmation of the name of the Met box can be found in the Board of Trades report into the 1904 crash (link below). Aylesbury East is explicitly mentioned in the description of the site (1st para, page 3), and throughout the evidence given by the various Signalmen involved.

That's interesting, thanks for that. It was definitely just "Aylesbury" when opened; this is recorded as such by the Ministry of Transport for their inspection of the new works there, both on the plan and in their inspection record.

david bigcheeseplant wrote:The date given for the opening of the first box of 1880 looks too late, as on the 1875 1:500 map it is clearly shown marked as signal box

Note that I said "by 1880", not "1880"; this is the earliest official date traced but if that building is the original box the architecture suggests it is rather earlier than that. Not being funny, but is it definite this was the box? I worked at Aylesbury for some years and curiously nobody mentioned that and it never occurred to me that it could be. I now have a huge bruise from kicking myself.

david bigcheeseplant wrote:Is Aylesbury south box now at the Great Central Railway if so does it have its original frame?

Yes, it is at Swithland Sidings and not far off commissioning.

david bigcheeseplant wrote:As for the MSLR box it seems strange to move a signal box just to provide a line side hut, could the whole box been moved and the frame been installed in the north box.

Indeed, but that assumes it moved there in 1908 when it could have been put there at any time before or after.

Incidentally, to update my earlier notes on dates, I have the Met box (aka East) opened 1892, closed 1908.

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby david bigcheeseplant » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:40 am

That's interesting, thanks for that. It was definitely just "Aylesbury" when opened; this is recorded as such by the Ministry of Transport for their inspection of the new works there, both on the plan and in their inspection record.

Incidentally, to update my earlier notes on dates, I have the Met box (aka East) opened 1892, closed 1908.


As per my post above, when the Met box open it wold have controlled the Met station (not too sure if there would have even been a connecting line between the Met and GWR) and therefore would be the only Met box at Aylesbury therfore would not need an East prefix, when access was granted to the GWR station then the two boxes would need prefixes, as they would then have to be linked.

Its quite a complex station!

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby John Hinson » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:55 am

Further to that, I should have said "in the inspection notes for opening at 1892, and on the plan and inspection notes for alterations c1900" as the plan is missing from the 1892 file.

It is possible, of course, that East was an unofficial name which was generally adopted (and it would have made things easier to describe in the accident report!). It isn't abnormal (before 1923) to find identically named boxes, sometimes working to each other, on different railways' lines - one feels some had an aversion to making their box seem subordinate to that of the other railway.

There is definitely a connection between the two lines by 1899 according to the Ordnance Survey.

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby david bigcheeseplant » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:19 am

Note that I said "by 1880", not "1880"; this is the earliest official date traced but if that building is the original box the architecture suggests it is rather earlier than that. Not being funny, but is it definite this was the box? I worked at Aylesbury for some years and curiously nobody mentioned that and it never occurred to me that it could be. I now have a huge bruise from kicking myself.

On the 1:500 1875 map it is marked signal box, I will see if I can find the map later and scan it in. As I said previously it outlated all the others that came after it, I do have a few photos but none of the forcourt side so don't know if there was a window there, I have just drawn it up on CAD to produce a model of it. The window at the front was made up from two sashes and slid from side to side .

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Re: Aylesbury's six signal boxes

Unread postby RonnieCassinello » Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:06 am

Flipper_T_Rox wrote:The box at Aylesbury South had (has) 55 levers, 45 of which were comprised of a GWR Double Twist locking frame, but converted to RSCo type direct-tappet locking. The remaining 10 were RSCo / GCR pattern below the floor, with GWR quadrants and levers above. I've got info on opening and closing dates at home, but 1908 and 1992 ring a bell.


Shawn,

I have dates of October 1991 for beginning the work on the brick base at Swithland Sidings, so I would guess that Aylesbury South would have at least been confirmed as the intended 'top half' of the structure by that date (whether or not it was still in use at Aylesbury). Additionally, I have c. 14 April 1992 for the installation of Aylesbury South's top half onto the new brick base. These dates come from research I conducted by trawling copies of Main Line a few years ago.

This also brings me to something I've been meaning to ask for sometime - does Swithland Sidings still have 55 levers (I'm assuming so from your comment above), and has the diagram changed at all in the last couple of years, or is it still as was planned c.2009?

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